Microsoft will invest $1.5 billion in United Arab Emirates-based artificial intelligence company G42. The silicon giant’s decision comes amid rapidly growing competition and a drive to strengthen its technology presence globally.

Microsoft President Brad Smith will join G42’s board of directors. The investment expands the existing partnership between the two companies, and with this investment Microsoft will acquire a minority stake.

G42 will leverage its artificial intelligence applications and services in Microsoft Azure as well as deploy Microsoft’s cloud offerings.

G42 operates data centers and sells artificial intelligence applications. The company has developed an Arabic model for large languages called Jais, which will be available through Azure.

According to sources, the deal Microsoft is making with G42 is unusual. However, the company says the commercial partnership is “backed by assurances to the US and UAE governments through a first-of-its-kind binding agreement to implement world-class best practices to ensure secure, reliable and responsible AI development and deployment”.

G42 Chairman Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahya is also the UAE’s national security adviser.

The government’s involvement comes after months of scrutiny of G42 for its links to China. A few months ago, Mike Gallagher, chairman of the U.S. Special Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, urged the Commerce Department to “scrutinize” G42 to see if it should be blacklisted for commercial exports.

Gallagher alleged that G42 maintains ties to blacklisted Chinese firms, such as Huawei, and that it works with Chinese military and intelligence services.

Yet when these accusations came out, however, G42 flatly denied them and even reportedly invested in Chinese firms itself, including TikTok owner ByteDance.

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